One of the four accused Kerala priests, Father Job Mathew involved in the sexual abuse of a parishoner has been arrested from a place near here, said police on Thursday.
The accused priest, however, denied that he has been arrested. He said he has surrendered.
Mathew was taken into custody while he was on his way to a court. He was taken to the Kollam district police chief’s office, where he was being interrogated.
The arrest of the accused Malankara Orthodox Church priests became a certainty after the High Court in Kochi on Wednesday rejected the anticipatory bail plea of three of them named in the complaint.
The remaining two, Father Sony Varghese and Father Jaice K. George, are currently on the run, a police officer said.
A woman who regularly visited the Malankara Orthodox Church had accused five priests of sexually abusing her for a decade. Her husband had complained that she came under duress from at least five priests.
It was one priest in the beginning who first exploited his wife and then started blackmailing her.
When she sought help from another priest, he too threatened her and shared her contact with a fellow priest and she was eventually victimised by five of them.
After pressure mounted on the police following the National Commission for Women monitoring the case, the four priests were charged with sexual assault.
One of the priests escaped action as the victim had mentioned only four names, the police officer said.
The court last week also refused any relief to the accused, who had sought a direction that police should not arrest them till their bail petition was heard.
The Kottayam-headquartered church has gone into a limbo since the allegations have surfaced and using their influence, they are believed to have exercised maximum pressure on the Pinarayi Vijayan government.
However, with the court taking a strong position, the church authorities are understood to have informed these priests that they have no other option but to respect the law of the land.
Another Kerala bishop accused of sexually abusing a Catholic nun, has once again denied the charges and reports of his moving to the Vatican.
Even as a special probe team mounted a detailed investigation against Franco Mulakkal, the Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Jalandhar in Punjab, he dismissed any plans of going away anywhere.
Mulakkal told a Malayalam TV channel in his office in Jalandhar that he has not even been contacted by the police. He also said he has not applied for any anticipatory bail, “because he has done no wrong”.
“I now hear reports that I am trying to run away to Vatican. I wish to state that I am very much here (Jalandhar) and all such reports are baseless and am not running anywhere,” said Mulakkal.
Trouble began for the bishop when a Catholic nun alleged that she was sexually abused by him several times between 2014 and 2016.
An FIR was registered against the bishop and a 114-page detailed statement was taken from the nun.
Mulakkal, for his part, maintains that he has done “no wrong at all” and that the nun took part in several functions besides travelling with him.
“She also took part in the functions after the death of my mother. I have no clue on why all this has surfaced,” added the bishop.
The probe team has so far collected evidences from a convent near Kottayam, where the bishop is alleged to have abused the nun.
The team will meet a few people in Kannur believed to be helpful in the case.